Agri-clash in Czechia over organic farming amid Ukraine war

Large Czech agribusinesses oppose the EU’s plan to extend organic farming to 25% of the land, warning against potential food price hikes amid an already challenging situation due to the war in Ukraine. [Shutterstock/HQuality]

The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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Goodbye CoFoE
On Monday the Conference on the Future of Europe came to an end. Over five months citizens have been contributing with their ideas to shape Europe. Check out our coverage in the Future EU section.

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Large Czech agribusinesses oppose the EU’s plan to extend organic farming to 25% of the land, warning against potential food price hikes amid an already challenging situation due to the war in Ukraine. Read more.



Hamburg city prioritises diversity to revive culture, save economy. Hamburg is looking for solutions to reverse the trend of rapid retail sector growth, while other sectors such as culture and leisure struggle, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, Senator for Urban Development and Environment in the Government of Hamburg, told in an interview. Read more.



Scholz and Macron to reignite Franco-German engine on EU integration. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to intensify the Franco-German tandem and lead Europe on a path of reform to enable a stronger and more sovereign EU. Read the full story here.



Ex-French PM sentenced for wife’s fictitious employment. An Appeals Court confirmed the conviction of former Prime Minister François Fillon and his wife for her fictitious employment when he was a member of parliament, sentencing them both to four years in prison. Read more.



Austrian ministers resign over ties with ex-chancellor Kurz. Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck, both close allies to disgraced former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, have stepped down. Read more.



First Dutch volunteer fighter killed in Ukraine. A 55-year-old Dutch volunteer fighter was killed by artillery fire near Kharkiv on Wednesday after joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion to fight Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the newspaper De Telegraaf reports. Read more.



Ireland sees rise in support for EU membership. Support for the EU rose in Ireland this year, with almost nine out of ten people backing the country’s membership in the Union, according to a newly released poll by Red C Research. Read more. 



New crisis looms as unionist leader threatens to block government. The UK appears to be heading for a major political crisis in Northern Ireland after the leader of the largest Unionist party, which finished second in last week’s Assembly elections, said that he would block the formation of a new devolved government in Belfast. Read more.



MEP: Sweden’s NATO policy ‘not democratically responsible’. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats have not properly debated the country’s possible NATO membership, a move that could raise tensions in northern Europe and therefore requires a wider democratic debate, a Swedish EU lawmaker told EURACTIV in an interview. Read more.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats to soon reveal NATO decision. The ruling Social Democrats will decide on NATO on Sunday to “keep up with Finland,” party secretary Tobias Baudin has confirmed, national broadcaster SVT reported. Read more.



Finnish Left Alliance to stay in government regardless of NATO application. The Left Alliance party, which is divided over NATO membership, has decided to stay in government even if the country’s political leadership decides to submit a membership application. Read more.

Turkey could use NATO applications of Finland, Sweden as bargaining chips. Turkey should use the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden as means to barter, according to two Turkish newspapers, the nationalist Aydınlık and Islamist Yeni Akit, Finnish media reported on Monday.

Mentioned were the recognition of the Cyprus occupied territory (so-called Northern Cyprus recognised only by Turkey) and lifting sanctions imposed on Turkey. Turkey using a veto is unlikely, though it is likely it will use diplomatic channels during the application process, Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Toni Alaranta told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in an interview.

(Pekka Vänttinen |



Lithuanian president calls Russia ‘more brutal’ than Nazis. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says Russia has become an aggressor who, in some cases, is “even more cruel, more brutal than the Nazis”, as Moscow commemorated its victory over Nazi Germany on Monday. Read more.

Lithuania sees increase in agriculture and food exports despite Ukraine war. The value of Lithuanian agricultural and food exports has increased by almost 30% compared to the same period last year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more.



EU Commission approves Spanish-Portuguese plan to cap gas prices. The European Commission has given the green light to a Portuguese-Spanish proposal, also known as the “Iberian exception”, to cap gas prices on Monday, announced Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, adding that both countries are working to pass national legislation on Tuesday. Read more.



Italy shares Macron’s ambitious EU enlargement ideas. Italy shares French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious EU reform proposals on enlargement, Italy’s European Affairs minister Vincenzo Amendola told the final Conference on the Future of Europe session in Strasbourg on Monday. Read more.



Turkish minister: Ukraine war could have been prevented if Turkey was EU member. Russia’s war in Ukraine could have been prevented if Turkey had become a member of the EU, Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for EU affairs Faruk Kaymakci, said in an interview. Read more.



Portugal records most new COVID-19 cases in EU. Portugal recorded the highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases per million inhabitants in the last seven days compared to other EU countries, according to the statistical website Our World in Data. Read more.



Another high-ranking Slovak politician backs gas payments in roubles. Sme Rodina member and Speaker of the National Council Boris Kollár is yet another high-ranking Slovak politician who says he supports paying Russia for gas in roubles. Read more.



No breakthrough on oil embargo after Von der Leyen’s surprise Budapest visit. Progress was made in efforts to convince Hungary to lift its veto on the sixth sanctions package that would see the EU quit Russian oil, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after her meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Monday evening. Read more.



Russia accuses Poland of inaction after Victory Day incident. The Russian foreign ministry has accused Polish authorities of not taking sufficient steps to prevent the pelting with red paint of Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreev at the Victory Day ceremonies in Warsaw, and called the country to arrange a new ceremony during which absolute security is assured, Russian TASS agency reported. Read more.



Slovenia refuses to rule out EU treaty change. Slovenia said it does not oppose the changes to EU treaties required by some proposals made through the Conference on the Future of Europe, even though it signed a non-paper that opposes “premature attempts” to launch changes to the bloc’s treaties. Read more.



Bulgarians take part in ‘rally against Russian fascism’. Tens of thousands of Bulgarians joined a march for freedom and peace against “Russian fascism” in Sofia on Monday. Read more.



Centrist MEPs ask Romanian leaders why they oppose changing EU treaties. The centrist party USR (Renew) delegation to the European Parliament asked Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca to explain why Romania joined 12 other member states that oppose EU reform. Read more.



Pictures of Putin, Z symbol paraded on Victory Day in Belgrade. Leading marchers at the Immortal Regiment march organised in Belgrade to mark Victory Day held a large banner with the words “The Immortal Regiment of Belgrade,” a cardboard cutout of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a large Latin-script letter “Z”, and was attended by a Serbian minister who owns a company in Russia. Read more.



Catholics in BiH halved since 1992, bishops warn. The number of Roman Catholics in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), most of whom are ethnic Croats, has more than halved compared to 30 years ago, dwindling to a mere 350,000, BiH’s bishops warned in a document carried by the Croatian news agency Hina. Read more.



Albanian inflation strikes citizens, agribusinesses. Prices have continued to rise in Albania, hitting citizens’ wallets hard and putting small agricultural businesses in a perilous position as food and transport register the highest increases. Read more.


  • Italy: PM Mario Draghi in Washington to meet President Biden. Energy, arms supply to Ukraine and sanctions on the agenda.
  • Serbia: Manuel Sarrazin, special envoy of the German government to the Western Balkans, to visit Serbia, where he is slated to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and speak at a conference on the Revitalisation of EU Values organised by the European Movement in Serbia.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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